Judgment Day: Part 29
The 29th part of the novel I wrote late at night while trapped behind a dresser.
Daryl opened the giant freezer, chrome doors taller and wider than he was. Inside, the three of them would be able to stand without a problem. He began pulling ice from a hamper and putting it into a dry washcloth. Azizi and Martin were talking about medical books and treatment, but he’d tuned them out. Martin was in a mood, and Daryl was already exhausted by the conversation.
The countertop beside the oversized refrigerator was crowded with service trays and bulk bags of coffee. All things that dated from this mansion’s previous lifetime…just over a day ago. It wasn’t Martin’s mania that bothered Daryl. His friend had always been a little unhinged, though it was usually held in check. What upset Daryl was that all these weapons may prove necessary. If it wasn’t for guns and the element of surprise, Molly and he would be dead.
He headed back out to the great hall and gently placed the washcloth on Molly’s bruised forehead. She moaned and turned slightly, her eyes opening again. For a moment, she stared blankly. Then a small smile decorated her face. She closed her eyes again, the smile holding on weakly, and placed a hand against Daryl’s arm. He gently pulled away, the washcloth balanced on her head, and headed back to the kitchen.
Martin was talking about the power and Daryl let himself tune back in.
“…3 years for regular gas, about 5 for diesel. I think. After that, we’re out of fuel. But we should start transferring it right away…or at least keep an eye on a few tanks around here. If water gets in the fuel, that’ll be it. Now for the power, it’s coal. I don’t think we have nuclear here. Either way, without anyone to run the plants, they’ll shut down in a few days… Surely the power won’t last long without human supervision.”
“We can’t run it?” Azizi asked.
“Are you really talking about staying here?” Daryl asked.
“Yes.” Martin answered, a little too quickly.
“That’s suicidal. We should head to your spot in West Virginia.”
Azizi shrugged, playing both sides. “It wouldn’t hurt, Marty. Fewer people means less danger. If these things cry for our blood, they’ll be 250 miles out of their territory and clambering up that damned mountain to get us.”
Martin’s eyes narrowed and seemed to darken, “There’s something going on here. You heard it, didn’t you?” he asked Daryl, “The ‘agreement’?”
“We heard it, too. They even let us go last night after a bit of a debate. Now, why’s that? They’re tearing everyone else apart, but they won’t touch us.”
Daryl realized that he had been clenching his jaw, the muscles in his cheek twitching. “I don’t think I care,” he replied, his voice cracking through his teeth.
“It’s the first problem in a new world of problems, D.” Martin replied.
“So you think there’s some greater force behind this?”
“Yes,” Martin replied without hesitation. That one word, the conviction of that one word, hung in the air for several moments.
Daryl sighed, then perched up on a countertop. “Tell me what happened with you guys.”
“We don’t have any answers,” Martin replied, “but we know that they die if you do enough damage to them. Which you’ve figured out for yourself.”
“But how did it happen?” Daryl asked, “What happened?”
Azizi popped open a can of juice, “One minute, the EBS clicked on all the channels at once. After that, chaos.” He smiled, using Martin’s terminology.
“Martin was in your room going through your temporary internet files.”
“Yeah, you gotta lay off the porn. That’ll desensitize you.” Martin said.
Azizi shrugged, “Anyway. After I lost your cell, Martin and I went up to see what was shaking. I mean, we’re 10 miles from ground zero… So if there was a firestorm coming, we figured we should go up on the roof to watch or something. That would be a once in a lifetime experience.”
“You got that right, funny man.” Martin said. “So we head outside and all those fucking Catholic kids next door are writhing around on their front yard. After a minute, they stop and we figure our prayers to the dark lord have finally been answered. Then, all creepy like, they get up and turn towards us.”
“So the power dies,” Azizi jumped in, “the whole neighborhood. And those kids are all moving after us like leopards – “
“All quiet and swooshy like.” Martin said.
“It kind of went on from there.”
“All terribly exciting, of course.” Martin added.
Daryl shook his head. “God… So there could be a lot of those things out there.”
“We haven’t seen more than a few together,” Martin said, “so the way I have it figured, if these freaks aren’t going to do the horde of undead thing, we should be able to hunt them down.”
Daryl felt a whip-snap rush through him, “Hunt them down?”
Martin leaned forward. “In every apocalypse story, it’s people fighting for an impossible cause. The last vestiges of our sick society reaching out from beyond the darkness to control and dominate the actions of the survivors who strive for normalcy. I say we break the mold. We don’t try to rebuild, we don’t hide under a rock, we hunt these zombie freaks and blow them to hell and back.”
“You’re talking about movies, Martin. We die in real life out here if we play gung ho. Jesus, do you even know how to work half those guns out there?”
“Point and shoot, D. Guns are made for citizen armies.” Martin dropped his voice to a whisper, “You can cut saplings in half with those out there.”
“It’s neat.” Azizi added. Then he shrugged, “Either way, shoot in the general direction of the bad guys. All it takes is a couple of bullets for the monsters.”
“My god.” Daryl whispered, shaking his head, “We gotta go. The best plan is to run and hide.”
Martin laughed wildly. “Is it? Do you think they’ll be ready for a full offensive? No… They show no fear of us. We’re children in their eyes. I promise you, as powerful as they are, they won’t know up from down if we drive up and kick them in the nuts. You saw them today.”
“Yeah, I saw them kicking me in the nuts!”
“Daryl, seriously, we have a chance to hit them.”
“What about those assholes in the police car? They weren’t monsters.”
Azizi nodded, “That was worrying.”
“Worrying? Worrying?” Daryl was slipping on the razor’s edge of reality again. So much of the day was spent in a mental state of drift, it was no wonder office workers snapped and commuters devolved into savages. So much rushing around just to get into a quiet cubicle and start daydreaming again. Total detachment in an angry world and, now, he would welcome that detachment. Wrap it around him, head down at the computer, mindless. Anything but Martin’s insane talk. Daryl imagined himself still trapped in that burning Metro car, or maybe even locked in some sort of delusional state in an asylum somewhere. It was hollow comfort to realize that he was in reality for the first time in his life. The real, killing world of rain and opposition and no room for the soft skin of modern man.